In Texas, it is a felony for an adult to solicit a minor (under seventeen) for sex. The crime may be prosecuted several different ways.
Criminal Solicitation of a Minor
Section 15.031 of the Texas Penal Code (“Criminal Solicitation of a Minor”) forbids solicitation of a minor to engage in behavior that would be a crime.
Online Solicitation of a Minor
Section 33.021 (“Online Solicitation of a Minor”) forbids soliciting a minor online with the intent that a sex crime be committed. Solicitation may be prosecuted as an attempt to commit the sex crime.
Sexual Performance by a Child
Section 43.25 of the Texas Penal Code forbids “Sexual Performance by a Child,” which includes “inducing a child less than 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct.”
So the act of soliciting someone over the 17-year age of consent to have legal sex could be prosecuted as a second-degree (2–20 years in prison) felony.
Compelling Prostitution is a special case of solicitation of a minor for sex. If by any means you cause someone younger than 18 to commit prostitution, you commit a first-degree felony (5–life) regardless of whether you know the age of the prostitute. Hire a prosecute who turns out to be under 18? First-degree felony.
Attempted Sex Crimes
Soliciting a minor to have sex may also be prosecuted as an attempt to commit the offense intended.
Actual Age May Not Matter
The Sexual Performance by a Child statute and the Compelling Prostitution statute require that the minor actually be less than 18 years old. The other statutes discussed require only that the defendant believe that the person solicited is under 17. It is not uncommon for the police to pretend to be minors to trap defendants trying to solicit minors for sex. Most often they do so by initially claiming to be over 18 (for example, by posting in websites that are 18-and-up) and then later claiming to be minors.
Defending the Solicitation Case
All offenses involving soliciting a minor for sex are serious felonies in Texas. Defenses may include “I didn’t believe it was a minor,” “I didn’t intend to meet for sex,” and “I was entrapped.” If you are accused of soliciting a minor for sex and you need to hire the experienced lawyers at Bennett & Bennett, call 713.224.1747 today.